May 1, 2017
"Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014) was really an excellent space-age action adventure film that had jokes for every member of the audience to enjoy. Writer James Gunn has certainly stepped up from writing "Scooby-Doo" films to writing and even directing this complex project, his first major directorial job. I counted the first GOTG film as one of the five best films of 2014.
In this sequel, Starlord Peter Quill's gang of Guardians -- Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, along with the insufferably cute Baby Groot -- are all back. After Rocket steals some of the precious batteries that the Sovereigns hired them to protect, the Guardians are chased by remote drones until they were forced to land on a random planet. A spaceship shaped like an gold-trimmed egg appears. Its distinguished-looking captain came out and introduced himself as Ego, Peter Quill's father.
Meanwhile, some Ravagers. led by the brutish Taserface, had lost confidence in the leadership of Peter's blue guardian Yondu, sparking a coup. The long-standing violent sibling rivalry of Gamora and her sister Nebula got re-accelerated. Ego's pet companion Mantis shared her powers of empathy and suggestion to the Guardians, making a special connection with Drax.
With all these stories going on, writer-director James Gunn made sure everybody gets their fair share of the action. In fact, for a while in the middle of the film, there was not much of Peter Quill himself even if the central story thread revolved around him, his father and the purpose expected of him. In the end, every thread of the story neatly got their satisfactory resolution and closure. Despite being more known as a comedy, those dramatic moments can also hit hard with emotion.
Chris Pratt has this effortless charm around him. It was not difficult to accept Kurt Russell in the role of Peter's dad, Ego. Zoe Saldana has perpetual grit on her face, and she is matched here by Karen Gillan as her rival Nebula. Dave Bautista was a delight to watch in Drax's guffaw moments. Bradley Cooper obviously had fun voicing the hyperkinetic raccoon bully, Rocket. Michael Rooker had his memorable moments as Yondu in this episode. Baby Groot was so adorable from his dominating the opening credits to all his sneaky little appearances in the closing credits. Imagining Vin Diesel as his voice makes him even cuter.
I think the very high bar set by this first GOTG film may affect audience appreciation of this second film. I think this sequel brought back everything that made us love the first film -- the oddball personalities, the explosive action, the energetic group dynamics, the naughty and snappy humor, the summery soundtrack of throwback hits. The first film had the element of novelty and surprise hence a stronger first impression. There isn't really an element of novelty in Vol 2 anymore of course, but this second film matches the first in its verve, humor and heart, certainly not failing any of my expectations. 9/10.